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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Forgiving 2

In the gospel of Luke (and only in Luke), Jesus is recorded as saying as he hung upon the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) The historicity of this verse is, of course, in dispute since some of the most ancient sources do not include the saying. Whether or not it actually happened that way, what we can say with certainty is that the saying is consistent with the life Jesus lived and the teaching he taught. It is also consistent with the life his example calls us to.

Forgiveness is power; not political or economic power, but personal, spiritual power. It frees us and makes us lighter. Sometimes we humans want to hang onto anger as a source of power. We are inclined to harbour hurts, slights, and grievances, coddling and nurturing these elements in our hearts. We may even try to give legitimacy to the anger we hold onto by using phrases like “righteous indignation.” I believe this is seldom appropriate or helpful.

That is not to say that the injury caused by some action, whether malicious or accidental, is not real. All of us have both caused and received such hurts, and the result may indeed be painful. We may carry emotional scars for years, both as a result of the damage we have received and the injustice we know we have caused. If we are not careful, these grievances can come to define us, and therein lies the danger.

All of this is not unlike the chrysalis that binds the butterfly. The caterpillar spins the cocoon around itself and hides itself inside. This is part of the process of transformation, but the creature must emerge from that shell in order to truly become who it is meant to be. Interestingly, the new creature does not immediately begin flying about in its new expression of life and freedom. It hangs on the split chrysalis for several hours while its wings dry and get stronger. Then when it is ready, it begins it new life of digesting nourishment from both milkweed and flowers, and sharing its grace and beauty with the world. Can you imagine any more peaceful scene than a butterfly floating and flitting from flower to flower?

As acknowledged in yesterday's post, it is not unusual for people to spend years in therapy seeking to let go of their pain. They know they need to emerge from the chrysalis. Forgiving makes our life more authentic. It frees us. Without forgiving, whether ourselves or someone else, we can never truly become who we were meant to be.

Doctrine and Covenants 161:3d says, “The road to transformation travels both inward and outward. The road to transformation is the path of the disciple.” The inward journey is important. Perhaps even Jesus would not have had the strength to forgive his executioners without it. But having gone inward, let’s not forget to also take the outward path. Like the butterfly we are also called to go outside the chrysalis; to become a source of joy, hope, love and peace to others. It is rather like Jesus saying to Peter, when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.

May you be blessed with love and grace today, and may you have the courage to take the journey of forgiving.

Note: This is not the first time we have talked about the butterfly in What's the Good Word? For further reflection on these remarkable creatures you might want to review Monarchs.

Posted by Carman

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